Neapolitan Mousse Cube Cakes

The semi-final week of Bake Off saw the bakers take on Patisserie with their signature savarins, a Danish technical construction and a showstopping cube cake. I chose to take on the showstopper challenge this week, being inspired by a strange November craving for ice cream this week. These are my Neapolitan Mousse Cube Cakes!

I think it’s not right to think of patisserie as being complicated, instead patisserie is baking with extreme care, precision and creativity. At its heart, my Neapolitan Mousse Cakes are not as complicated as they appear on the surface but they do require care, preparation and time. These cakes consist of chocolate and vanilla genoise sponges sandwiched with a layer berry mousse and a layer of berry jelly before being coated in a chocolate glaze and finished with some nuts for added texture. I chose to use a glaze which sets hard over a mirror glaze for that contrast in texture with the snap of the glaze contrasting with the soft sponges and the soft mousse.

Genoise sponge has fast become one of my favourite sponges to make with its fantastic light but delicate texture and it is the go-to sponge for layer cakes in my opinion. Genoise differs from a standard whisked sponge that you might use for a Swiss roll for example, since it contains fat. It is hard to retain the air built up by whisking the eggs and sugar if you add melted butter directly to the cake batter as the consistencies of the batter and the fat are very different. But if you mix a portion of the cake batter with the melted fat, the consistencies of these two batters are closer together and it is easier to mix together, resulting in the genoise sponge mixture.

The jelly layer in between the mousse and the vanilla genoise is the leftover berry compote jelly mixture which goes to making the mousse. It is important to allow this mixture to thicken and begin to set before it is spread over the mousse; if it has not set at all, the compote mixture would bleed into the vanilla genoise once it is placed on top but if it is too set, it will be impossible to spread evenly over the mousse layer. When placing the vanilla genoise on top, it is important to press the sponge firmly down on the jelly and mousse so it adheres together and does not come off once set.

For the chocolate genoise:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 55g granulated sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 8g cocoa powder
  • 25g margarine, melted

For the vanilla genoise:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 55g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g plain flour
  • 25g margarine, melted
  • Yellow gel food colouring

For the berry mousse and jelly layer:

  • 250g frozen mixed berries, large berries chopped up
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6g gelatine powder
  • 60ml warm water
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 35g margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • Chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 8 whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Lightly grease and line a 20cm square tin with one long strip of baking parchment wide enough to fit the tin so the sponge can be easily lifted out.

For the chocolate genoise, place the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and whisk the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes until it reaches ribbon stage; this means you can use the whisk to lift up some of the mixture and draw a figure of eight shape on top and it will take a couple of seconds to sink back into the mixture. Sift over the flour and cocoa powder evenly over the whisked eggs and use a rubber to fold through the dry ingredients, scraping down to the bottom of the bowl to ensure no flour has collected there.

Use the spatula to scrape about a quarter of the batter into a bowl with the melted, but cooled, margarine. Mix together quickly until the margarine has been incorporated. Pour this batter back into the larger bowl and use the spatula to fold the mixtures together until the batter is even. Pour the genoise sponge batter into the baking tin and tilt the tin to spread out the batter to the sides of the tin. Bake the sponges for about 12 to 14 minutes or until the sponge is set, springs back when pressed lightly and has started to come away from the sides of the tin.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake if they are stuck to the tin and turn out the sponge onto a cooling rack to cool fully. Repeat the same process but for the vanilla genoise, adding in the vanilla extract with the eggs and sugar. Leave both sponge layers to cool completely.

For the berry compote, place the frozen berries into a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and a splash of water, about a couple of tablespoons. Cook the berries over a medium heat for about 6 to 7 minutes until the berries have defrosted, broken down and are soft. While the berries are cooking, mix the gelatine powder with the warm water. After the berries are cooked, add in the gelatine mixture, stirring to dissolve. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large bowl, squeezing out all of the juices, throwing away any remaining seeds or pulp. Leave the compote mix to cool and begin to set. Once it begins to set, pour out 90g of the berry compote into a separate bowl. Allow both compote mixtures to firm up.

Line a 19cm square tin with two large strips of baking parchment that come up the sides of the tin. Trim the edges of the chocolate and the vanilla genoise sponges so that they fit in the tin. Place the chocolate genoise at the bottom of the tin.

Whisking either by hand or with an electric whisk, whip the double cream with the sugar until it forms soft peaks. Whisk in the set aside 90g of berry compote into the whipped cream until it is evenly whisked. Pour the mousse into the tin on top of the chocolate genoise, using an offset spatula to help level out the mousse.

Carefully spread the remaining set compote on top of the mousse, making sure that the mousse doesn’t ripple with the cream too much. Place the vanilla genoise on top so that the top of the sponge is touching the jelly and mousse. Firmly press the sponge down and cover the whole thing well with clingfilm. Place into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to glaze the cakes, trim the edges to neaten them and divide the cake into 16 cubes. Place some of the cakes on top of a cooling rack set over a baking tray with parchment underneath (I have a metal tray that my cooling rack can sit on top of).

Prepare the glaze by melting the dark chocolate, margarine and golden syrup together until it is smooth and shiny. Keep the glaze warm by sitting the bowl in some hot water. When the glaze is set enough so that it won’t run off the cake but is still easy enough to spread, cover the top and sides of each cube cake with a thin layer of the glaze. Before the glaze sets, sprinkle one half of the top of each cake with some of the chopped hazelnuts and then place an almond on the other half. Allow the glaze to set slightly and room temperature before lifting up the cakes onto a small tray and chilling until the glaze has fully set.

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